Luck. It’s one of those things that I don’t really understand. I also don’t consider myself a lucky person so I was quite interested in hearing what the author had to say about her journey with luck. Luck to me just seemed random. You win some and you lose some at the casino and you attribute it to luck (at least for some games). What can you do to have more luck in your life?
#### Sometimes, all you need to be luckier is to feel that you are luckier
Do you ever have those days where you just seem to feel unlucky? You get off work and you just miss the light. As a result, you miss the train and you hop on another train where the person next to you falls asleep on your shoulder. You get to your stop and try to transfer to your bus but realize that because you took a later train, you missed the connection and your bus left.
Other days, you just feel extremely luck. You get off work and you just manage to catch the traffic light to cross the street. You catch the train as it is just about to leave the station. You reach your station and you manage to catch the bus at the very last moment before it pulls away.
What’s the difference between those two days? It’s just a matter of whether you feel lucky or not. Stay attentive to opportunities, be prepared for anything and try the unexpected.
#### Real luck occurs at the intersection of chance, talent and hard work
If you really break it down, that is what real luck is about. Harrison Ford worked as a carpenter for a very famous director before being cast into his iconic roles as Indiana Jones and Han Solo. Some people would say that he was in the right place at the right time – a little bit of luck you might think but he certainly would never have made it if he didn’t work hard in the first place nor if he was a talented actor. If you look at it another way, there are two out of three things that you can control. You can put in the hard work. You can develop the talent. You may not be able to control chance but if you have two out of three things, you can be ready when luck ‘strikes’.
#### Sometimes you have to take a risk to make yourself lucky
One of my friends and who I consider to be an amazing speaker and consultant, Shawn Kanungo, says that he gave some advice to a company that asked him what advice he would give to employees of a company. His advice is to do something at your company that will get you fired. He didn’t mean to do anything violent, malicious or sexual but more so to take a big risk at work. I try to take risks at work all the time. Whenever I see that we’ve done something the same for months or years, I figure out how I can make it better or different and do that instead. Sometimes I live the pain of failure but I think I would feel more pain if we continued to do things the same way (no matter whether we succeed or not). If you don’t take the shot, you won’t have a chance to score and sometimes you have to take the shot, even if there’s some risk involved. See my last point though on making sure you have at least two out of the three elements of real luck.
#### Skate to where the puck will be
This is the advice that Wayne Gretzky followed – it’s how he managed to break a number of records in the NHL for points, scoring, assists, etc. I also learned that this is why Mother Teresa flew first class. She could raise more money for her charities on first-class flights than almost any other place. It’s also the same reason why people who create technology startups flock to the Silicon Valley – if you want to be and get lucky, you need to be in the right place where you have the best opportunity to BE lucky.
#### There is a huge amount of strength in weak ties
Weak ties are those people that are in your network but are not as close to you as your family or friends. You could call them acquaintances but they can also be people that you run into on the street, on the bus or around your work environment. You may have heard about the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding and how it came out of nowhere to be a huge hit. The writer and star Nia Vardalos found a way to get the movie to Rita Wilson, who she knew was proudly Greek. Wilson agreed to help and brought it to her husband, Tom Hanks, who had his production company invest in the movie. The luck came from connecting to other people.
To me, this doesn’t mean that I’m going to be more social – I like the time that I spend reading and writing alone at my home but it does mean that part of being lucky is connecting directly with other people. At work, the consultants have a regular habit of asking each other what they are working on or what they have coming up. This can reveal unexpected connections to previous projects and touch points with other current projects.
#### Zig when others zag
When people are doing one thing, sometimes in order to get ahead of the competition, you should be doing something else. If everybody is submitting Word proposals, you should try out a PowerPoint proposal. The Blue Ocean Strategy, another great book, talks about this where instead of competing where everybody else is already competing, you should be creating a brand new market so that you are the market leader.
#### Be persistent, be passionate
The cartoons in The New Yorker magazine is something that is hotly contested. 50 or so regular contributors submit 10 ideas at at time and there is space in the magazine each week for fifteen or so cartoons. If you do the math, most of the contributors get regularly rejected. If you were one of the cartoonists and you got rejected one week and decided to quit, your submission will never make it on the magazine. It means that you need to be persistent and keep submitting and working hard to submit ideas to The New Yorker. But what’s going to fuel that persistence? Passion. Passion for cartoons. Passion for your craft.
#### Diversify your investments
Nassim Nicholas Taleb has a picture of a special type of barbell on the cover of Skin in the Game. The barbell has heavy weights on one side and light weights on the other. In a way, it’s a metaphor for his investments – he puts a certain amount of investments into ‘normal’ investments and then he puts in a small investment in some very risky investments – say crypto or penny stocks. In the event that a ‘black swan’ event occurs – that is, events that seem to come out of nowhere and can’t be predicted – like world wars, stock market crashes, etc. – then it might ruin a lot of people but it may also create huge windfalls to others (such as Taleb). Invest in the extremes.
#### Getting lucky in love
Love, or at least meeting the love of your life, is partly about putting yourself in the position of meeting the right people. If you are looking for someone that is active, smart and ambitious, you may not want to try to meet people at the local watering hole.
Another tip that I’ve heard before but thought was still interesting – if you’re on a date and you simulate exciting feelings while on the date, your date will associate those exciting feelings with being with you. For example, if you’re on a date and you go on a roller coaster or go see a scary movie, your date will feel excited and think that being with you is exciting.
## Luck is an attitude
The biggest takeaway that I got in being lucky was that you have to take on the attitude of being lucky. If you feel that you are lucky and you go about your day seeing things as an outcome of your luck, you’ll find that luck begets more luck. If you feel that you are always unlucky, you’re going to see things as a result of your bad luck and when things happen (or don’t happen) to you, you’ll have a different outlook on how you view your luck.